Understanding Pregnancy Ultrasounds

A pregnancy ultrasound is a test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images your healthcare providers can view on a computer monitor to give them information about your pregnancy. You might be wondering why a pregnancy ultrasound is necessary if you have not yet made a decision about your unexpected pregnancy. Ultrasound is beneficial because the images provide your medical team with important data, and this knowledge can give you the facts you need to make an informed decision about your pregnancy.

Types of Pregnancy Ultrasounds

Pregnancy ultrasounds include transabdominal, transvaginal, Level 2, 3D, doppler, and fetal echocardiography ultrasounds.

After a positive pregnancy test, you will likely receive:

Transabdominal ultrasound

Gel is placed on your abdomen, and a roller-like device (transducer) is moved over the gel on your abdomen. The transducer picks up soundwaves that produce images onto a computer screen.

Transvaginal ultrasound

A special, smaller transducer probe is lubricated with gel and gently placed into your vagina to obtain images. Transvaginal ultrasound is used primarily in early pregnancy.

Ways a Pregnancy Ultrasound Is Useful

To Determine Pregnancy Viability

Even if you have already decided upon abortion, you will need to know if your pregnancy is viable. A positive pregnancy test result tells you that the hCG pregnancy hormone was detected in your urine. However, it does not mean you have a viable pregnancy.

According to the March of Dimes, as many as half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage: 80% of those occur in the first trimester — or the first twelve weeks. So, after a positive pregnancy test result, you will need to confirm your pregnancy is viable by ultrasound. A viable pregnancy is one that is expected to continue and result in childbirth (if no other steps are taken).

If no fetal heartbeat is detected, you would not need an abortion but would be referred for medical treatment instead.

The location of your pregnancy also impacts viability. If your healthcare provider detects a heartbeat by ultrasound, but the pregnancy is located outside of your uterus (i.e., in the fallopian tube), your pregnancy is also not viable. An ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy implanted in the fallopian tube, is a medical emergency and requires immediate intervention.

The fetal heart rate also impacts the viability of your pregnancy. Research reveals that if an ultrasound detects a very low heart rate, called embryonic bradycardia, the rate of miscarriage is significantly higher. If embryonic bradycardia is identified during your ultrasound appointment, you will likely be asked to return in about a week to repeat the test.

To Determine How Far Along You Are in Your Pregnancy

An ultrasound can accurately measure how many weeks pregnant you are. You can’t count on using only menstrual dates for accuracy because many women experience period-like bleeding while they are pregnant.

If your pregnancy is unexpected, and you are still gathering information about how you will proceed, you will need to know how far along you are because your options will partly depend on that.

To Determine If You Have a Single Pregnancy or Multiple Pregnancy

An ultrasound can also give you a valuable indication that you might be carrying a single or multiple pregnancy.

Get the Answers You Deserve

If you have had a positive home pregnancy test or think you might be pregnant, contact our compassionate team at Willow Womens Center. We provide licensed professional medical care, including pregnancy testing and ultrasounds at no cost to you. Reach out today by calling 608-312-2025 or by using our online scheduler.


When Is an Ultrasound Most Beneficial?
When Is an Ultrasound Most Beneficial

You have just learned you are pregnant. You did not expect it, and you never thought you would be wrestling with such a big decision. Now what? Where do you start looking for resources and accurate, unbiased answers to your questions?

You do not have to navigate this journey alone. Willow Womens Center will help you find the answers to your questions. We will walk with you, one step at a time, amidst the tremendous stress of an unexpected pregnancy. One of those steps will be an ultrasound, provided by our licensed medical professionals at no cost.

What is an Ultrasound?

A pregnancy ultrasound is a safe medical test that creates images on a screen using sound waves. These images supply important facts to help you make informed decisions about an unexpected pregnancy.

Pregnancy ultrasounds can be transabdominal or transvaginal.

  • Transabdominal ultrasound

A transabdominal ultrasound is external. First, the ultrasound technician uses a warm gel that is placed on your abdomen. Then, they move a small handheld ultrasound transducer across the gel on your belly. The transducer painlessly transmits sound waves that create an image on a nearby screen.

  • Transvaginal ultrasound

A transvaginal ultrasound is internal and used most often earlier in pregnancy because it provides more accurate images when the fetus is smallest. When you have a transvaginal ultrasound, the ultrasound technician gently inserts a small tampon-like transducer inserted into your vagina.

The technician can glean the information needed in the same way as a transabdominal ultrasound by viewing images transmitted onto a computer screen.

Your ultrasound images are studied by a physician who will provide a final report. The information you receive from your ultrasound provides invaluable answers to questions that will help guide you as you decide about your unexpected pregnancy.

Why an Ultrasound?

You now know the details of having a pregnancy ultrasound, but why would you need one, especially if you are considering an abortion? We will answer that question next.

An ultrasound determines pregnancy viability, your conception date, gestational age, and if you have a multiple pregnancy.

  • Pregnancy viability

Most likely, you discovered you were pregnant by taking a home pregnancy test. A pregnancy test lets you know that the hCG pregnancy hormone was detected in your urine, but it does not tell you if your pregnancy is viable — or healthy. You can have a positive pregnancy test along with a nonviable pregnancy.

A nonviable pregnancy has no likelihood of surviving. This can happen if the pregnancy has implanted outside of the uterus (i.e., an ectopic pregnancy) or if no fetal heartbeat is detected. Why would you want to know this? Because up to 25% of known pregnancies are nonviable and end in miscarriage, and if your pregnancy is nonviable, it changes the options available to you when your pregnancy is unintended.

To summarize, an ultrasound is an essential follow-up step after you have a positive pregnancy test because a pregnancy test alone does not confirm a viable pregnancy — only an ultrasound will tell you if your pregnancy is viable or not. And this is crucial information to have before making a decision about an unexpected pregnancy.

  • Conception date and gestational age

An ultrasound also determines an accurate date of conception. That means when you became pregnant and informs you about how far along you are in your pregnancy.

If your pregnancy is unexpected, and you are considering abortion, this information is particularly important to have since different options are available to you depending on gestational age (how many weeks pregnant you are). So knowing what stage of pregnancy you are in is critical for you to make an educated decision.

  • Multiple pregnancy

About 1 in every 250 natural pregnancies are with twins; that is information you probably want to have. After a positive pregnancy test, an ultrasound can tell if you have a multiple pregnancy.

Ultrasound Timing

Now that we have looked at what an ultrasound is and why it is essential to follow up your pregnancy test with an ultrasound, we can discuss timing. When is an ultrasound most beneficial?

A pregnancy ultrasound should be performed after it has been six weeks since the first day of your last period. This ensures that your pregnancy is far enough along to provide accurate and valuable information.

If you have an ultrasound less than six weeks after the first day of your last period, it can lead to confusion. Sometimes, even if you have a viable pregnancy, the ultrasound does not detect it before six weeks. When this happens, it can increase your anxiety as it leaves you wondering.

If you are early in your pregnancy and the ultrasound is inconclusive, meaning your healthcare provider cannot determine if the pregnancy is viable or not, you can make an appointment in another week or two for a follow-up ultrasound.

There are several reasons why a viable pregnancy would not be detected on ultrasound:

  • The pregnancy is too early to detect
  • Conception occurred later in your menstrual cycle
  • Mistaken last missed period date
  • Larger abdomen
  • Tipped uterus

The last thing you need right now is to add to your stress by having to face more uncertainty and waiting after an inconclusive ultrasound. So, be sure to schedule your pregnancy ultrasound appointment at least six weeks or longer after the first day of your last period when the ultrasound is most beneficial.

Rest assured that waiting six weeks will not limit your options for an unintended pregnancy in any way. You will still have the same choices available to you, but you will have more accurate information to make your choices with.

Get Reliable Support

Call (608) 312-2025, or make a confidential appointment online with Willow Womens Center today. We understand that you can feel bombarded with information, facts, and conflicting advice when you are facing an unexpected pregnancy.

Our compassionate advocates and licensed medical professionals are available to answer your questions in a judgment-free environment. We are committed to empowering you, so you can feel good about making an informed decision.


Is My Girlfriend Pregnant?
Is My Girlfriend Pregnant?

You think your girlfriend might be pregnant, but you are not sure. The thought of facing an unplanned pregnancy is scary, but it is best to know the answer sooner rather than later.

To find out if your girlfriend is pregnant, you can ask her, look for obvious signs, and encourage her to take a pregnancy test.

Ask Your Girlfriend If She Thinks She Is Pregnant

Although you usually would not ask a woman if she is pregnant, it is ok to ask your girlfriend. Remember that she is just as fearful as you are. Assure her that she has your support whether she is pregnant or not, and you will work through this together.  

Signs Your Girlfriend Is Pregnant

You may not get the definite answer you need, but you can also look for early signs of a possible pregnancy. When women become pregnant, their bodies go through tremendous changes and produce pregnancy hormones that trigger common symptoms of pregnancy, which include:

  • Missed period

A missed period is the most common sign your girlfriend is pregnant. Understanding how her cycle works can help you know how likely she is to be pregnant.

  • Nausea with or without vomiting

It is called “morning sickness,” but nausea with or without vomiting can occur any time of the day or night. In addition, foods and odors can trigger nausea in early pregnancy.

  • Tender or swollen breasts

Tender and swollen breasts can start one to two weeks into pregnancy. It can also be a sign that your girlfriend’s period is about to begin. But if they are combined with other symptoms, it could indicate that she is pregnant.

  • Fatigue

Thanks to high progesterone hormone levels in early pregnancy, your girlfriend may feel exhausted if she is pregnant.

  • Bloating

Bloating is another early pregnancy symptom that mimics signs your girlfriend’s period is about to start. Sometimes, bloating occurs before she misses her period as progesterone hormone levels rise and cause the digestive system to slow down and gas to be trapped.

If you see any of these signs of pregnancy in your girlfriend, encourage her to take a pregnancy test so you can determine your next steps and take them together.  

Encourage a Pregnancy Test

The best way to know if your girlfriend is pregnant is by a urine pregnancy test – no-cost pregnancy clinics can offer free testing with highly accurate pregnancy test results.

Medical pregnancy clinics are skilled at determining if a pregnancy is viable and will answer all your questions about each of your options for an unexpected pregnancy.

Willow Womens Center Has Answers

At Willow Womens Center, we understand that taking a pregnancy test is scary for anyone thinking they might be unexpectedly pregnant because it means acknowledging reality and facing tough decisions.

Our licensed healthcare professionals offer no-cost limited medical services and compassionately empower you with the information you need to make the best decision about an unplanned pregnancy. Contact us online today or call 1-608-312-2025 to schedule your confidential appointment and get the answers you deserve.


How To Tell Your Partner About an Unexpected Pregnancy

The chances of needing to tell a partner about an unexpected pregnancy at some point are pretty high when you consider that nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Even if you have a healthy relationship, it is common to feel a little nervous about telling your spouse/partner that you are pregnant when that wasn’t part of your plans right now.

So, how exactly do you tell them about an unexpected pregnancy? This article will discuss what you can do to make that conversation flow a little easier.

Timing Matters

When you tell your spouse/partner about an unexpected pregnancy, timing matters. Choose to share the news when you have plenty of time to talk or simply can spend time together afterward to process your thoughts and feelings. In other words, telling them that you are unexpectedly pregnant just before you both leave for work would not be ideal.

If either of you is significantly preoccupied or stressed, it may be best to wait. Talking about an unexpected pregnancy just after an argument or before an important job interview could start this journey off on the wrong foot.

Another aspect of timing is to tell your spouse/partner soon after you discover that you are pregnant. This way, you haven’t already spent a great deal of time moving through the phases of coping with an unexpected pregnancy while he is just getting started in the first phase of shock.

Where To Tell Your Spouse/Partner About an Unexpected Pregnancy

In-person and in the comfort of your own space is the ideal place to tell your spouse/partner about an unexpected pregnancy. This will give them a chance to respond honestly, and you can talk freely in a private setting compared to out in public. Showing your partner the positive pregnancy test helps to alleviate his shock, and you probably wouldn’t want to pull that test strip out at your local coffee shop.

Unless your spouse/partner is away for an extended period of time, such as military deployment, definitely do not tell him about an unexpected pregnancy by phone or text message. Next, we’ll discuss what to say because words matter.

How To Tell Your Spouse/Partner About an Unexpected Pregnancy – Choosing Your Words

Before you talk with your spouse/partner, it is critical to remind yourself that you did not get pregnant by yourself. An unexpected pregnancy is not something you need to walk on eggshells about or carry guilt or shame over. Once your mindset is ready, you can think about the words to use when you tell them that you are pregnant.

You are not responsible for your partner’s response to an unexpected pregnancy, but you can choose words that may help set the tone for your conversation about it. For example, consider the difference between hearing, “I have terrible news,” and “My period is late, so I took a pregnancy test today and found out we are pregnant.”

Approach talking with your partner about an unplanned pregnancy with the confidence that this is an issue you can tackle together. Use words that are natural to you but think ahead of time about how you want to phrase them directly and positively.  For example, say, “We are pregnant” rather than “I’m pregnant,” because this did not happen all by yourself.

Give Your Spouse/Partner Space and Time to Process the News

If you are not looking at the pregnancy test results for the first time together, your partner will be in the difficult position of having to react to the news in front of you, and that’s not easy. He may feel compelled to filter his reaction so he does not hurt your feelings, or he may react with unfiltered honesty – and that can be painful if he is initially unhappy about the pregnancy. However, this is not a free pass to treat you disrespectfully, which is never okay.

The moment just after telling your spouse/partner about an unplanned pregnancy is the time to “hold space” for him. Holding space means he has a chance to experience his thoughts without pressure to discuss them right away. He may need to process the news on his own for a bit before coming together to discuss it with you. Don’t take his first reaction personally if it is negative – he is most likely responding to his fears rather than you.

Like you, your spouse/partner will move through many different responses as he comes to grip with the news of a pregnancy neither of you saw coming. Common responses men have to an unexpected pregnancy include:

  • Happiness
  • Shock
  • Fear
  • Denial
  • Anger

Take One Step at a Time

There is no denying that difficult conversations come with the territory of an unexpected pregnancy. Take one step at a time, and do not make any permanent decisions while your emotions are high or conflicted.

Once you have moved beyond the initial shock, you can move on to discuss your feelings about topics ranging from your hopes, dreams, and goals to your fears and next practical steps to making a pregnancy decision. It is essential to take one step at a time as you share honestly about how you feel about your pregnancy options, including parenting, adoption, and abortion.

  • Step 1 – Confirm your pregnancy

Your first step is to confirm how far along you are in your pregnancy and verify that your pregnancy is viable. A viable pregnancy is one that is likely to carry to term successfully rather than end in miscarriage. You can get these answers only by a pregnancy ultrasound performed by your healthcare provider or at an unbiased pregnancy center such as Willow Womens Center.

  • Step 2 – Weigh your options and make your decision

After you know you have a viable pregnancy and how far along you are, talk with an experienced pregnancy advocate who can review your options with you and your partner. The licensed healthcare professionals at Willow Womens Center can provide the information you need about parenting, adoption, and abortion so that you can make a confident decision about your unexpected pregnancy. You will never feel rushed or pressured to make a pregnancy decision; instead, you will be empowered to make the best decision for you and your family.

Willow Womens Center Is Here for You

At Willow Womens Center, we understand how confusing an unplanned pregnancy can be. We compassionately provide confidential, no-cost services to help you make an informed decision about your unexpected pregnancy. Make an appointment at Willow Womens Center today.


When To Take the Morning-After Pill and When Not To
when to take the morning after pill and when not to

You have heard about the morning-after pill, but you feel that you need more information before you consider taking it. How does the morning-after pill work? Is it different from the abortion pill? What are the possible side effects? How do I know when to take the morning-after pill and when not to? These are common questions women ask, and you deserve accurate answers, which you will find here.

How Does the Morning-After Pill Work?

The morning-after pill is a high dose of the progestin hormone (levonorgestrel) that a woman can take to try to prevent pregnancy. A common brand name is Plan B One-Step. A woman might take it right after having had unprotected sex, missing multiple doses of birth control pills, or experiencing failed birth control such as a condom breaking.

The morning-after pill is different from the abortion pill. The abortion pill is used after a confirmed pregnancy has already occurred, but the morning-after pill prevents pregnancy from happening. The morning-after pill won’t cause an abortion once a fertilized egg has already implanted into the uterus.

According to Mayo Clinic, the morning-after pill works in one of three ways:

1. It can prevent ovulation.

Ovulation occurs each month around the middle of your menstrual cycle. It is when your ovary releases a mature egg. The main way the morning-after pill works is by preventing ovulation, an egg from releasing from the ovary.

2. It can prevent an egg from becoming fertilized.

Another way the morning-after pill works is by changing the movement of the released egg or sperm, which can prevent fertilization.

3. It can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.

If fertilization has already occurred, it is possible that the morning-after pill can prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine lining. This is the least common way the morning-after pill works.

When To Take the Morning-After Pill and When Not To

The morning-after pill is available at drug stores without age restriction, identification, or a prescription. Since guidance from a healthcare provider is not required either, it is common for women to have unanswered questions about when to take the morning-after pill and when not to take it. We will offer only general guidelines here. Please ask your pharmacist or doctor about specific questions you may have.

First, we will look at when you might consider taking the morning-after pill. As we discussed above, women take it when they have had unprotected sex or when birth control fails for any reason.

It is designed to be taken as soon as possible after sex – within 12 hours provides the highest chance of preventing pregnancy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the morning-after pill for up to 72 hours; however, research reveals it can prevent pregnancy, although less effectively, up to 120 hours after unprotected sex.

How effective is the morning-after pill? If it is taken within 24 hours, there is a 95% chance that it will prevent pregnancy. If it is taken within 72 hours, the effectiveness drops to about 75-89%. It is only 25% effective if five days have passed. The closer it is taken to the time of unprotected sex or failed contraception, the higher the chances that it will prevent pregnancy. Timing is important.

If you take the morning-after pill and discover you are pregnant, studies show that the medication does not harm the pregnancy if you choose to continue it. Research also indicates that if you take the morning-after pill while you are breastfeeding, it may decrease milk production. The pill’s hormones are passed through to breastmilk but don’t appear to cause harm to the development or health of the breastfeeding infant.

We have talked about when to take the morning-after pill. Are there situations where it would be less effective, or when should you not take the morning-after pill? Yes, do not take the morning-after pill if:

  • It has been more than 120 hours (5 days) since you had unprotected sex.
  • You know you are pregnant, or you think you might be pregnant.
  • You are experiencing unexplained spotting or pain, which could indicate an ectopic pregnancy (a medical emergency of a pregnancy outside of the uterus).
  • You have a hypersensitivity or allergy to its ingredients.
  • You are using it as a regular form of birth control.
  • You already took one dose. Doubling up the dose does not work better or lessen the chance of pregnancy.

The morning-after pill is less effective if:

  • You wait to take it. The chance of an unintended pregnancy increases as time passes after unprotected sex.
  • You take certain drugs or medications, such as barbiturates or St. John’s wort, that metabolize the progestin hormone.
  • You are overweight. There has been conflicting information about the morning-after pill being less effective if a woman has a BMI over 35.

What Are the Possible Side Effects of the Morning-After Pill?

Side effects of the morning-after pill typically don’t last more than a few days and can include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding
  • Lower abdominal pain or cramps

If you vomit within two hours of taking the morning-after pill, notify your healthcare provider for further instructions.

What If I Don’t Get My Period After Taking the Morning-After Pill?

If you took the morning-after pill and your period hasn’t started within three weeks, make an appointment for an evaluation to determine if the morning-after pill worked or not. Willow Womens Center offers confidential, medical-grade pregnancy testing at no cost to you.

If your pregnancy test is negative and your period still doesn’t start, we are here to repeat the pregnancy test for you – also at no cost.

If your pregnancy test is positive, our compassionate healthcare professionals will provide the information you need to make a decision about your pregnancy. We will offer you a no-cost ultrasound to determine if your pregnancy is viable. We know that knowledge is empowering. You will also be given information about each of your pregnancy options so you can make an informed decision about what is best for you.

If you think you might be pregnant, make an appointment at Willow Womens Center today, and receive the caring support you deserve.